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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Wydad bounce back from shock CAFCL defeat to Kaizer Chiefs with Botola win at RS Berkane

Wydad Casablanca turned in an excellent second half performance with a significantly weakened side to earn an important road victory at RS Berkane, winning 0-2 to extend their lead at the top of the Botola Pro table to six points on Tuesday. Coming off a disastrous home loss in the first leg of their CAF Champions League tie against Kaizer Chiefs, manager Faouzi Benzarti opted to rest his entire starting eleven for their league match and the reserves came through for what could be a crucial win.

Based on the first half performance, it looked like Benzarti’s decision might have been a costly one. RSB were certainly the better team in the first half and looked much more likely to score. Mouhssine Iajour’s free kick after 32 minutes was a beauty of a strike, but Wydad keeper Aissa Sioudi was saved by the frame of his goal as the shot clanged off the crossbar and into the top netting. Badie Aouk had Wydad’s best opportunity just before halftime but blasted his shot over the goal from the corner of the Berkane penalty box.

The performance was improved from Wydad coming out of halftime and the visitors struck a surprise opener with 49 minutes gone. A patient buildup form WAC opened up a shooting opportunity for Mounsef Chrachem and the 22-year-old forward made no mistake by unleashing a hard blast that went into the corner of RSB keeper Zouhair Laaroubi’s goal.

RSB’s wastefulness in the first half was punished and the hosts failed to recover, losing their nerve as the match went on. This was emphasized by an incident after 60 minutes when Iajour’s run into the WAC box was blocked and the striker lost his temper, striking a Wydad defender with his arm. After a VAR review, referee Nabil Benrqia gave Iajour a red card and things went from bad to worse for the hosts. In the 77th minute a long ball sent in Zouheir El Moutaraji behind the RSB defense and the forward rounded an advancing Laaroubi with ease before finishing into the empty net.

Red cards given to a member of each team’s bench summed up the heated nature of the match and Berkane’s unraveling starting with Iajour’s red card, but in the end it was a brilliant result for the reserves of WAC and maintains their lead at the top of the table. Highlights are below.